Improving food security and livelihoods in Tanzania by increasing the nutritional and sensory quality of a local rice-based food product
In Tanzania, like in any other country in sub-Saharan Africa, micronutrient deficiencies in the diet substantially contribute to the country’s burden of disease, affecting 22 to 40% of children under the age of five and women at reproductive age. The situation is partly caused by consumption of foods that have largely lost their nutritional quality due to processing practices. For example rice, the second most important food and commercial crop, is mostly consumed as milled white rice, typically providing only a small proportion of the daily requirements for most vitamins and minerals.
However, in one of the major rice production areas, a local thermally processed rice-based food product known as Pepeta is widely consumed, which has nutritional benefits because of its sole ingredient – the immature rice grains. Immature rice grains contain high amount of nutrients, including micronutrients such as B vitamins and specific minerals.
Also, the applied thermal processing significant reduces losses of water soluble constituents such as B vitamins, sugars and most minerals. However, accurate information on the Pepeta processing factors that affect its sensory and nutritional quality is scanty. Such information is needed as a baseline for developing suitable and innovative processing technologies for improved nutritional and enhanced economic values.
Therefore, the project aims at optimising the bioavailability of nutrients and sensory attributes of Pepeta to enhance its use and commercialization as a culturally accepted product.